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Published November 25, 2013, 10:36 AM

Sneak peek on nitrogen

A soil specialist will preview 2014 recommendations.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Dave Franzen is wading through four years of research data on applying nitrogen fertilizer to corn.

It’s too soon to draw firm conclusions, but Franzen, North Dakota State University Extension Service soil specialist, has some early observations to share.

Franzen will preview his 2014 corn nitrogen recommendations using precision tools from 1:10 to 2 p.m. Dec. 3 at the 43rd annual Northern Ag Expo. The event runs Dec. 3 and 4 at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.

Franzen is a cornerstone of the event; he’s spoken at it, on some aspect of soil fertility, every year since 1994.

His topic that first year was, “All About Ammonia.”

Corn acreage in North Dakota has soared from 1.9 million in 2009 to 3.8 million in 2013. Nitrogen fertilizer in crucial to corn growth, so Franzen’s recommendations will interest many farmers.

His full recommendations, reached after he finishes studying the four years of data, will be published online in the summer of 2014.

“I won’t be able to tell people (at the Northern Ag Expo) exactly what we’ll put on the web, but I’ll give them a pretty good idea of where we’re going,” he says.

His research has used active optical sensors. which will help farmers who sidedress their corn.

Sidedressing means applying fertilizer alongside a row of growing plants.

The full recommendations released this summer will include a series of algorithms from different parts of the state tailored to that specific area, he says.

Franzen’s topics at the 2012 Northern Ag Expo included the development of mathematical formulas linking optical sensing devices and yield estimates early in the growing season.

Earlier this fall, Franzen was named a 2013 Fellow by the American Society of Agronomy. It’s the organization’s highest honor.

More information on Franzen and his work with fertilizers and soil fertility: www.ndsu.edu/soils/person nel/faculty/dr_david_franzen/.

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